One year in Uganda – our “new normal”

July 1 was our one year anniversary of arriving in Kampala, and over the past year we’ve settled into life in Kampala.  Things that first took some getting used to have now become normal life to us.  Here are some elements of our “new normal”:

Quality family time sometimes involves chickens
 Both of the kids are fascinated with our ever expanding brood of chickens (we currently have about 26) and they love helping Muigai feed them and chase them back into their house when they get out.  Even Nathan loves opening the feed bucket and grabbing handfuls of feed to throw to them.  When the younger chicks see Natalie and Nathan coming, they actually run towards them, expecting to get some lunch or dinner leftovers!
Nathan feeding the chickens
Natalie loves picking up the chickens, and has become better than I am at catching them!
Fun family adventures are frequent, and our children are becoming excellent travelers
Despite the challenges of traveling with young children, it’s a blessing to be able to travel with our children and share these experiences with them.  We will see if I still have the same positive attitude towards traveling with out children after our 17 hour journey to the US tomorrow!
 We drive in “hyper – alert mode”
 Driving in Uganda is quite different than driving in the US!  Not only do we drive on the left hand side of the road, we have to be vigilant to avoid pedestrians, bodas (motorcycles), potholes, cows, goats, 15 passenger van taxis, other vehicles, and pedestrians, all of which often come within inches of the car!  The roads near our house are hilly and narrow, with drainage ditches on each side of the road.   Driving rules are also different here – at an intersection, you don’t wait for adequate space before you pull out – you just begin pulling into the intersection and it’s assumed the oncoming traffic will stop for you.  We often notice international visitors are quite tense the first time they ride in the car with us.
A downtown area of Kampala
Similar to the roads near our house with many pedestrians and drainage ditches
It’s very common to have guests at the house for dinner or overnight visitors
 One thing I love about our life in Kampala is the many opportunities we’ve had to host visitors.  Having household help takes much of the stress out of hosting visitors and allows us to enjoy the conversation and company.  In terms of overnight guests, in the past year we have had people from more than 9 different countries stay with us!
Ceri, our friend from Wales, was our most recent visitor. She stayed with us for 2 weeks and worked in a local hospital as part of her midwifery training program. In this pic we are at the beach in Entebbe on our way to drop her off at the airport.
The line between home and work is very fuzzy
Not only do Muigai and I work in the same place, we actually share a position.  This definitely has its positive side – we spend a lot of time together as a family and are learning much more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and it is helpful to see Muigai’s strengths compensating for my weaknesses and vice versa.  Of course, sharing a position has its share of challenges too, such as having boundaries between home and work (we’re not too good at this yet but we are trying!) and learning how to speak with “one voice” when we have different personalities and management styles.
We are always meeting inspiring people
Mennonite Central Committee does not implement its own projects, but rather partners with local people and organizations that are doing work that is in line with our values and priorities.  This means we are always meeting and interacting with people who have decided to make a positive change in their communities and are doing work that impacts the lives of others.
Skype dates are always a highlight of our week
By far, the hardest part of our “new normal” has been being so far away from my family.  Video skype has made it a lot easier, and we always look forward to skype dates with family back home.  My parents are usually available one or more times each week to read to Natalie over skype, and they read her bedtime stories over the video while I put Nathan to bed.  It’s not the same as being together, but I am grateful that skype is at least providing an opportunity for meaningful interaction.
We are always hot
 Kampala weather is actually quite mild compared to the rest of the country, and is generally in the 80s year round.  During hotter months, it will get into the 90s, and during rainy seasons it may get into the 70s.  There is basically no air conditioning – indoor temperatures are also in the 80s, so our bodies have adjusted to being very comfortable in mid 80 degree weather.  We are packing our long pants and long sleeves in preparation for the air conditioning in the US!!
We head out for our much needed and much anticipated three week vacation in the US tomorrow, so I won’t be posting much in the next three weeks except for maybe a few pictures if I have the time…I want to spend my limited time there with people instead of on my computer!

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